DJ Becker/The Madera Tribune
Part of a cedar tree fell across both westbound lanes of traffic on Howard Road near Fairview Avenue on Tuesday afternoon, shocking nearby motorists and closing the roadway to traffic for about two-and-a-half hours as city crews cut up and then pushed the heavy 24-inch limbs out of the roadway.
Motorists were stopped and startled out of their cars as large limbs of an ancient cedar tree came crashing down directly in front of them about 2 p.m. on Howard Road, near Fairview Avenue.
No injuries or property damage were reported.
First responders said the heavy, 24-inch diameter limbs, about a third of the tree, could have easily crushed cars and potentially seriously injured or killed anyone underneath the limbs as they fell Tuesday afternoon.
Miraculously, no pedestrians were on the sidewalk or vehicles in the roadway at the time, they said. There is usually was traffic waiting at the stoplight in exactly the spot where the large branches landed.
A woman from a nearby business said they were startled when they heard a loud crack and saw a thick cloud of dust envelope the roadway.
“It was hard to tell exactly what had happened,” she said, “only when the dust settled could you see the tree down in the roadway. Cars were stopped everywhere, people were walking over, looking to see if anyone was underneath it.”
Adjacent residents said no one could remember when the 200-foot tall tree was planted in the front yard of the house, but the planting likely predated the paving of Howard Road. Residents also said the old tree had been dropping large limbs in or near the sidewalk and roadway for several months, and it was better to remove the entire tree for safety’s sake.
City crews responded with chain saws to cut up the downed limbs and used a heavy-duty front end loader to clear them from the roadway. The limbs were then pushed back on to the adjacent private property for removal. Both lanes of westbound Howard Road were closed to traffic for about two-and-a-half hours.